GT World Challenge Imola: Team WRT take top spot with Vaxiviere, van der Linde, Bortolotti

Audi claimed victory in the opening GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup round of the season at Imola courtesy of its Team WRT squad

GT World Challenge Imola: Team WRT take top spot with Vaxiviere, van der Linde, Bortolotti

In the hands of Matthieu Vaxiviere, Kelvin van der Linde and Mirko Bortolotti, the #31 Audi R8 took the lead in the second hour after a sensational stint from van der Linde.

In total, there were five full course yellow periods - three of which occurred inside the opening hour - which contributed to a stop-start race, but the Audi remained the class of the field, beating the #12 GPX Racing Porsche of Mathieu Jaminet, Matt Campbell and Patrick Pilet by just over three seconds.

Saturday's qualifying had been a tight affair with the Attempto Racing Audi of Mattia Drudi, Frederic Vervisch and Kim-Luis Schramm claiming pole from the AF Corse Ferrari of James Calado, Alessandro Pier-Guidi and Niklas Nielsen.

Vervisch took the start in the #66 Audi and led from Calado's Ferrari while 2019 runner-up Maro Engel's Mercedes-AMG GT3 was forced through the gravel at Tamburello following contact with Campbell.

Christian Hook caused the first FCY after losing control of his AKKA ASP Mercedes GT3 exiting Rivazza (below), while contact between the CMR Bentley Continental GT3 of Petru Razvan Umbrarescu and Remos Vos' Ram Racing Mercedes brought out the second.

Barely a lap was completed following that restart before the yellows were out again; the Imperiale Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Giovanni Venturini having lost a wheel after contact.

Vervisch and team-mate Schramm then lost time and several places with a slow stop during this FCY, leaving the #71 Ferrari now with Nielsen at the helm, in the lead.

Van der Linde, now in the seat of the WRT Audi, was fifth at the restart but made quick work of those in front of him.

The South African quickly dispatched Formula 2 regular Louis Deletraz's Porsche and AKKA ASP Mercedes' Timur Boguslavskiy with near-identical moves at Rivazza. Van der Linde then caught and passed former Williams Formula 1 driver Sergey Sirotkin's Ferrari at Tamburello for second.

His highly impressive stint was then completed after a switch-back manoeuvre on Nielsen at Tamburello to take the lead, which he then extended by some 16 seconds before handing over to Bortolotti.

Two more full course yellow periods followed, first for Fabian Schiller's Mercedes which was tapped into the Rivazza gravel by Alvaro Parente's Bentley and then Ben Barnicoat's stricken McLaren 720S.

Each time, Bortolotti maintained his lead and duly took the win by 3.428 seconds from Jaminet, with Felipe Fraga, Boguslavskiy and Raffaele Marciello completing the podium.

Defending champions Lamborghini endured a difficult weekend, with FFF Racing's Andrea Caldarelli, Marco Mapelli and Dennis Lind retiring with a broken damper.

There was a silver lining for the Italian brand though, as Frederik Schandorff, Patrick Kujala and Alex MacDowall claimed Silver Cup honours following a late-race incident for the Garage 59 Aston Martin Vantage of Valentin Hasse-Clot.

Jonny Adam, Alexander West and Chris Goodwin (Vantage) came out on top in the Pro-Am class battle, while Romano Ricci, Stephane Tribaudini and Bernard Delhez (Continental) took Am class victory.

Result

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 M.Bortolotti, M.Vaxiviere, K.van der Linde Team WRT Audi 3h00m13.320s
2 P.Pilet, M.Jaminet, M.Campbell GPX Racing Porsche 3.428s
3 R.Marciello, T.Boguslavskiy, F.Fraga Akka ASP Team Mercedes 4.754s
4 C.Mies, D.Vanthoor, C.Weerts Team WRT Audi 5.109s
5 M.Winkelhock, D.Boccolacci, C.Haase Sainteloc Junior Team Audi 9.403s
6 J.Andlauer, K.Bachler, D.Werner Rowe Racing Porsche 16.820s
7 A.P.Guidi, N.Nielsen, J.Calado AF Corse Ferrari 17.647s
8 O.Wilkinson, R.Bell, J.Osborne Optimum Motorsport McLaren 20.078s
9 R.Dumas, L.Deletraz, T.Preining GPX Racing Porsche 20.399s
10 S.Muller, M.Cairoli, C.Engelhart Dinamic Motorsport Porsche 20.881s
11 N.Siedler, M.Grenier, R.Feller Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini 21.603s
12 F.Schandorff, A.MacDowall, P.Kujala Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini 22.276s
13 A.West, C.Goodwin, J.Adam Garage 59 Aston Martin 25.444s
14 A.Watson, V.H.-Clot Garage 59 Aston Martin 25.892s
15 V.Abril, L.Stolz, M.Engel Haupt Racing Team Mercedes 26.370s
16 A.Rizzoli, M.O.Pedersen, A.De Leener Dinamic Motorsport Porsche 26.417s
17 A.Soucek, J.Pepper, A.Parente Flying Lizard Motorsports Bentley 26.717s
18 A.Costa, F.Perera, G.Altoe Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini 50.535s
19 T.Buret, T.Neubauer, A.Panis Tech 1 Racing Lexus 58.628s
20 S.Sirotkin, D.Rigon, M.Molina SMP Racing Ferrari 59.110s
21 F.Latorre, B.Moulin, A.Amici Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini 1 Lap
22 E.P.Companc, P.Assenheimer, J.C.Catalan Madpanda Motorsport Mercedes 1 Lap
23 C.Froggatt, J.Hui, E.Cheever Sky Tempesta Racing Ferrari 1 Lap
24 A.Rougier, M.Blanchemain, C.Seyler Sainteloc Junior Team Audi 1 Lap
25 P.Ehret, R.Mastronardi, D.Keilwitz Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 1 Lap
26 N.Hommerson, L.Machiels, A.Bertolini AF Corse Ferrari 1 Lap
27 K.Ojjeh, G.Vannelet, N.Yelloly Boutsen Ginion Racing BMW 1 Lap
28 T.Mosca, A.A.Aka, N.Scholl Attempto Racing Audi 1 Lap
29 R.Pampanini, I.Jacoma, M.Calamia Dinamic Motorsport Porsche 2 Laps
30 R.Baptista, M.Soulet, J.Gounon Flying Lizard Motorsports Bentley 2 Laps
31 B.Delhez, R.Ricci, S.Tribaudini CMR Bentley 2 Laps
32 R.Breukers, B.Goethe, S.Hall Team WRT Audi 2 Laps
33 P.Keen, H.Hamaguchi Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini 7 Laps
34 L.Machitski, R.Collard, S.Mitchell Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini 8 Laps
35 B.Barnicoat, L.Williamson, M.Kodric 59Racing McLaren 15 Laps
36 M.Drudi, K-L.Schramm, F.Vervisch Attempto Racing Audi 17 Laps
37 E.McKay, F.Bird, N.Kjaergaard Team Parker Racing Bentley 18 Laps
38 B.Hites, L.Legeret, A.Fontana Akka ASP Team Mercedes 22 Laps
39 F.Schiller, M.Buhk, A.Lorandi GetSpeed Performance Mercedes 25 Laps
- H.Haupt, S.Afanasiev, F.Hutchison Haupt Racing Team Mercedes Retirement
- A.Caldarelli, M.Mapelli, D.Lind Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Retirement
- L.Mauron, K.Galbiati, G.Venturini Imperiale Racing Lamborghini Retirement
- P-A.Jean, S.Morris, R.Umbrarescu CMR Bentley Retirement
- R.L.Vos, T.O.-Cole RAM Racing Mercedes Retirement
- J-L.Beaubelique, F.Barthez, J.Pla Akka ASP Team Mercedes Retirement
- C.Hook, N.Bastian, F.Scholze SPS automotive performance Mercedes Retirement


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